For years, Jackson Memorial Hospital has made US News & World Report's "Best Hospitals" list. But its reputation among gay people has been one of the worst in the country.
The reason is partly due to a court case filed by a lesbian named Janice Langbehn. In February 2007, hospital staff kept the Washington state native from the bedside of her dieing partner. Although the couple had been together for 18 years -- and had adopted three children together -- the hospital did not acknowledge them as a family. Her partner died alone.
Yesterday Jackson announced some good news: The hospital, which is the third largest in the country, has broadened its visitation policy to include same-sex partners. They will also adopt training methods to teach employees about LGBT families. "It's a milestone," says CJ Ortuno, director SAVE Dade, an equal rights organization. "They are really committing to changing the culture of the hospital."
Hospital training sessions will focus on patient non-discrimination, visitation, decision-making and cultural competency. In some cases, staffers will take continuing education classes.
Jackson has been working with LGBT organizations such as SAVE for over a year on the making itself more inclusive. "For them it's less of a change and more what they have always felt and believed," Ortuno says.
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Families come in all kinds of packages, so congrats to JMH on an improved policy, which you can view here.